Have you ever belted out the high notes of your favorite tune in the shower only to have a family member pop in the door to shout for you to “please stop!”? As singers, we all aspire to have the range of Hillsong’s Taya Smith Gaukrodger or Elevation’s Chris Brown. So how can you become that good? How can you extend your vocal range to hit those highs and lows?For most of us, it is going to take careful work and progress to extend our vocal range and work on our voices. The good news is that there are techniques and exercises that can help. In this article, we'll give you some tips on how to increase vocal range.Contents
First, you may ask why you should put the work into expanding your vocal range. Shouldn't you just accept the way God created you and sing to the best of your ability? Well, yes, you should accept certain qualities of your unique voice tone. If you are a rich and low baritone, it is unlikely that you are going to be able to sing songs in the same key as Tauren Wells.However, everyone, no matter their natural tone and abilities, can do something to increase their level of skill. Working on your voice, in general, is a great way to keep it strong, as people naturally lose range as they age. Working to expand your range can improve your breath control, keep your voice healthy and reduce the risk of hurting your voice later down the road. So let's take some time here to address how to do vocal work safely.
Like most things related to your health, having a healthy voice starts on the inside. What are you eating? What are you drinking? Are you getting enough rest? These factors absolutely affect your vocal ability. This is the place to start. Attempt to eat a nutritious diet and remain hydrated. If you do this, your ears, nose, and throat will be able to aid you in producing quality sound instead of constantly fighting off an illness. Keeping the body healthy is key to improving your vocal range.Secondly, are you resting your voice? If you have an occupation that requires you to use your voice all day long, such as talking in meetings, shouting over a noisy classroom, or projecting over the sound of machinery, you need to create time in your day to rest your voice. All of those things can make your voice tired. Trying to improve a tired voice is going to be fruitless or maybe even counter-productive! So prioritize rest for the voice.When you begin work on your voice, something to consider is that there are risks. If you are not prioritizing the care of your voice and you just try to start practicing singing higher or louder, you could damage your vocal cords. Overuse of the voice can cause vocal nodules, which sometimes have to be addressed with surgery. Check out what medical experts say about caring for your voice.
So, where do you begin? Just like athletes prepare for practice and a game by warming up, your voice is an instrument that needs to be warmed up as well. Like those athletes, you can't just dive into singing and expect to perform at peak capacity. Vocal warm-ups are very important to anyone who takes care of their voice.Most vocal warm-ups lead the singer gently up and down the scales while their vocal cords loosen up and become ready for singing or talking. Oftentimes, it is through practicing these warm-up exercises that you can carefully work to extend your range. There are many helpful resources online to help you begin, but ultimately spending time with a vocal coach is one of the best ways to expand your range. A coach can offer your feedback, guide you in the best exercises, and can prevent you from singing incorrectly, which could damage the voice.There is another thing that professional athletes do that does not get much attention—and that is the cool-down. Why is it important to spend time on a cool-down exercise when you are working on your voice? In athletics, a cool-down prevents injury by helping guide the body to pre-workout levels. In singing, a cool-down can be very beneficial as well. Doing cool-down exercises can help the voice recover after an intense session of practice or performance where the voice has been stretched in levels of volume or range. If you ask a professional singers if they do cool-downs, they are going to say they wouldn't miss it!
Another way to improve your voice is as simple as adjusting your posture and breathing. These are two activities that we all default to without much thought, but they are actually two of the most important things a singer can be mindful of when trying to grow their range.To start, how you are standing can directly impact the way sound is produced. If you are slouched, your ribs will not allow your diaphragm to expand as it needs to in order for you to breathe and sing at full capacity. The best way to stand is with your feet shoulder-width apart with loose knees (not locked or tense). Your shoulders should be back, and your chest should be open to allow for good breath support.Breathing correctly is the most important thing you can do to improve your voice. Many singers breathe shallowly and do not engage their diaphragm when singing. As a result, they struggle with high notes, low notes, and achieving volume in general. Practicing breathing exercises may seem like a waste of time, but you are actually growing the most important muscle that is related to singing. Over time, these exercises will pay off, and you will begin to sing with more power and range. Again, a vocal coach can lead you through this process and offer helpful feedback as you practice proper posture, breathing, and singing.
When it comes to singing, there is so much that you can do to improve your voice quality and range. First, you can protect your voice by prioritizing your body's health and rest. Second, you can engage in warm-up and cool-down exercises to keep your voice strong while gently stretching your range. Third, you can even adjust your posture and breathing to immediately hear a difference in your voice.
All of this advice is a great way to get started, but trying it all on your own can be overwhelming. If you want to pursue vocal lessons and learn about voice and music in general, we have music programs at Visible to guide you along your journey. We all have a next step to take in stewarding our God-given gifts and talents. Are you ready to invest in yours?